candidate experience

We know what it’s like to have pressing questions about your candidate experience – Do we engage enough with our candidates? What are the top 3 things we need to improve in our recruiting process? How likely are candidates to apply to our jobs- and not have a clear sense of how to go about finding the answers? 

Almost 73% of organizations agree that candidate experience is essential to their business, but less than half believe their recruiting practices are effective. This includes the collective result of all interactions with job candidates during the recruitment process.

To win in a war for talent, recruiters must improve their candidate experience. And great candidate experience requires a candidate-centric mindset…and a lot of strategic work. 

What’s the challenge? 

It’s not that creating a positive candidate experience is hard. The real problem is that you need to go beyond the surface-level “data” and need a deep understanding of candidates’ expectations, behavior, and preferences. And getting this information isn’t always easy. There’s no shortcut to gathering this personal information and so, the only way to know for sure is by actually putting best practices in place and leveraging recruitment tech to gather insights. 

This guide is your handy resource to improve your candidate experience: why candidate experience matters, how to improve it by making changes to your hiring pipelines, and the tech stack you need to efficiently implement these changes – so you have everything you need to start delivering an exceptional experience for your candidates. 

What Is Candidate Experience?  

Candidate experience is your candidates’ holistic perception of their experience with your recruitment process or agency. Candidate experience is the result of every interaction they’ve had with your organization throughout the recruitment process. These interactions include all the stages of the hiring pipeline – right from the first touchpoint i.e the job application to the screening process, interviewing, and onboarding

Everything you do impacts your candidate’s perception and their decision to keep engaging with your team or not – so a great candidate experience is your key to success. 

Imagine you’re running a brick-and-mortar store. A customer walks in and tries to figure out what they want to buy. Now, you’d want to approach them and strike a conversation to help out. Or when they come up to the counter, you can ask them if they’re looking for anything more, learn who they are, and gather personal information like anniversary, birthday, and more to offer discounts in the future sometime. Seems like a good customer experience story, right? 

Also check, Our Journey to 100+ customers in less than 100 days

Put this into the perspective of your recruitment process now. When a candidate applies to your job posting, they already know what they want. Good, they’re halfway there! But it’s a chance for recruiters to establish a strong relationship from the get-go. First impressions are important and work both ways. So, it’s time to bring a mindset shift in your team where recruiters treat candidates like your customers. 

When you communicate clearly, engage with them, and nurture positive relationships, candidates are more likely to have a great experience and trust your recruiters and hiring managers. “Also, find what communication channel your candidates prefer and dedicate your efforts there. Some customers prefer to receive SMS over Wi-Fi that notifies them about the interview date, while others prefer to connect via a video conferencing app.”

Importance Of Positive Candidate Experience

Delivering a positive candidate experience is hugely important for any recruiter. The better experience candidates have, the more likely they are to engage with your job postings. This, in turn, has a big impact on the quality of your hires, the reputation of your recruitment firm, and consequently your revenue.

It always comes back to the fact that top candidates have more opportunities than ever before. Especially recruitment trends like the Great Resignation and virtual work – both empowering candidates – have raised the stakes for hiring the top talent and recruiters are often fishing in the same pool. 

Not only is the market more competitive, but it’s become easier than ever to conduct research and find relevant information about roles and employers, and candidates themselves are less bound by language or geography. 

Recruiters need to overcome challenges like higher time to fill and being able to quickly move to secure top talent before the competition. 

“People speak of a war on talent, and what I tell our clients is that the talent is winning,” Brandon Hall Group CEO Mike Cooke said. “There are so many available solutions for improving the candidate experience; organizations really need to re-evaluate their hiring practices. But first, they must recognize the problem and want to do something about it.” 

There’s no single universal checklist to follow to guarantee a good candidate experience: your recruiting needs are unique and so are your candidates. However, in our experience of talking to some of the most successful recruiters and headhunters, we’ve found some common principles across industries. 

A quick overview of how you can build a good candidate relationship management strategy:

  • Create a candidate persona to help your team understand who your candidates are and what they should expect. 
  • First impressions matter. Create a candidate nurture journey that helps them understand the recruiting process better and keeps them updated about their progress. 
  • Make candidate feedback a regular part of your recruiting ops to develop an in-depth understanding of your candidate experience.
  • Implement a system to streamline your hiring process and increase hiring speed. 

It’s not rocket science: a good candidate experience comes from building efficient systems in place that improve hiring speed, listening to your candidates, and implementing their feedback. 

A positive candidate experience is becoming increasingly important in today’s job market, especially for candidates with IT skills. With the growing demand for IT skills in almost every industry, candidates with experience in IT career fields are highly sought after. Recruiters who are able to provide a positive experience for candidates in IT career fields will have an edge in attracting and retaining top talent. In fact, a negative candidate experience can not only deter candidates from applying for a particular job but can also damage a company’s reputation and hinder future recruiting efforts.

Before we get into how you can improve your candidate experience, let’s take a look at the benefits of delivering a great candidate experience:

  • Improved engagement 
  • Increased quality of hires 
  • Strengthened brand positioning 
  • Increased company revenue 
  • Better word-of-mouth marketing, positive reviews, and recommendations 

12 Ways To Improve Your Candidate Experience 

Here’s what we found when we asked candidates to identify what they consider to be important parameters to improve the hiring process that would engage them more, increase the likelihood of them accepting job offers, and reapply with the same recruiting firm. 

1. Write Clear Job Descriptions

There’s a lot of talk about how to write job descriptions that get good engagement. There are a couple of things that factor into making a job description compelling. 

  • Use simple language: Candidates want clear and accurate job descriptions. They’re not on your job posting for learning buzzwords, rather they’re job hunting and looking for opportunities that could level up their professional life. Make sure you use short and simple sentences that are easy to read and understand. 
job description template
job description template
  • Break it down into bite-sized sections: When creating a job description, make sure your writing is crisp, relevant, and easily digestible. If you stack up against your writing in long paragraphs, you decrease its readability. Also, boring, unnecessarily lengthy descriptions can cost you your candidates’ attention and engagement. Make sure you divide your job description into different sections, sub-sections, and bullet points. 
  • Paint a picture: With a section like “ A typical day at work”, you visually paint a picture of what your candidates can expect if they get selected for the position. Talk about who they’ll be working with, what are their responsibilities, and how they’re expected to perform. 
job description template
job description template
  • Make your expectations obvious: Too many candidates feel lost after they’ve applied for a job because they simply don’t know what you expect from them. Make your expectations clear from the get-go. In the above example, we’re hiring for a senior recruiter and we’ve explicitly mentioned that we need them to make 1-2 critical hires, build a pipeline for the next 6 months, and create sourcing strategies. 

2. Be Transparent About the Hiring Process 

83% of candidates say it would greatly improve their overall experience if recruiters could set expectations about the recruiting process. Being transparent is an important aspect of delivering a positive candidate experience. 

Provide a timeline for your hiring process. Set clear expectations of what each stage of the hiring process will look like and how much time each stage will take. This is important because someone who’s considering joining a new company might need to give notice to their current employer or even relocate to another location. 

Share a roadmap of your hiring process. This helps candidates know the exact stages of the recruiting process, keep track of what’s coming next, and prepare for it. You should also offer valuable resources that help candidates visualize the recruiting process. A good example is Google’s How We Hire, a detailed and transparent look into their hiring process.  

3. Use an Applicant Tracking Software & CRM 

For candidates, it’s important that the recruitment process should be fair, speedy, and respectful. Here are some important candidate experience statistics that agree with this:

  • 52% of candidates say they get frustrated most by the lack of response from potential employers during the job search process.
  • 81% of job seekers say employers communicating continuous status updates would greatly improve the candidate experience.
  • 46% of candidates who withdraw from the recruiting process do so because they believe their time has been disrespected during interviews.

As a recruiter, you’re probably already using a traditional recruitment system to show you the big picture of your recruitment ecosystem. 

Also, check our blog on recruiting statistics.

But as you scale your recruitment business, you’ll quickly realize that while these tools work for specific use-cases, they lack important features (specifically automation capabilities) you need to keep up with today’s dynamic recruitment market. 

An executive recruiting software like Recruiterflow puts you on ground level with your candidates, so you can see exactly how they’re engaging and track metrics like time to fill. You can go beyond the big picture, and experience your recruiting pipeline through their eyes. 

  • Build a single source of truth to centralize all candidate information. Too often, recruiters already have more than enough on their plate, so constantly keeping track of various projects, hiring pipelines, candidates, and more becomes a daunting task. With executive recruitment software, you can build a single source of truth – a centralized dashboard that keeps track of all your candidates and ensures you don’t miss out on important events and tasks. 
  • Organize for candidate outcomes rather than operational ease. A study found that when conversational AI has been a part of the recruiting process, candidates offered a job are 38% more likely to accept. Using modern executive search software can help you improve your candidate experience without adding to your already busy schedule. 
  • Create email sequences for different stages of a hiring pipeline. Whether you’re adding a new candidate to your recruiting process, moving them from one stage to another, or simply reminding them about an upcoming interview, doing it manually is not only time-intensive but prone to errors. 

Recruiterflow’s recruitment CRM lets you build email sequences to create a candidate journey. You can add various touchpoints, use custom fields like delay time, and select specific segments to run your email sequences. This way, your candidates will stay updated throughout the process, without your team doing the heavy lifting. 

4. Make It Easy For Candidates To Apply For Jobs

Candidates expect a fast and user-friendly experience when it comes to filling job applications. 

Research shows that candidates typically spend 3-4 hours preparing and submitting one job application. And 25% of job seekers quit an application because it was too long or complex. 

Candidates might flow through your job postings every day, but somehow all of that traffic down to just a trickle of filled applications. Here are some effective tips to improve your job application process that will enhance your candidate relationship management strategy:

  • Create a well-designed application page. Users prioritize ease of use and intuitive navigation, regardless of what they’re trying to accomplish. They have the same expectations when it comes to job applications. You can use recruitment tools to quickly design your careers page and post job adverts. 
  • Give clear application instructions. No one wants to spend hours on end trying to figure out the next steps in a long, complex application. Make sure you write actionable steps, so candidates know what they’ll need to fill out a job application.
  • Keep your application process short and mobile-friendly. Remember, the mobile job search is less of a perk and more of an expected convenience today. Moreover, not all candidates have the time to fill out a lengthy application, so it makes sense to create short, crisp, and mobile-friendly applications. The Indeed app offers an ‘apply from your phone’ option for job postings, so candidates can easily apply to jobs on the go. 

5. Coach Hiring Teams Before Interviews 

You might have some recruiters in your team who absolutely ace it when it comes to sourcing the right candidates, communicating with them, and nurturing relationships. However, it’s not necessarily true that all recruiters are naturally good interviewers. 

The interview is a critical stage in every recruitment process that can win you top talent and ensure that candidates are fully aware of the job responsibilities and the company they might be joining.  

  • Be specific about the role and responsibilities. Share “what a day in the life of X” would look like. What tools will they be using regularly? How many teams will they be interacting with? Will they be key-decision makers? If yes, in which processes? 
  • Update your interview approach: Video interviewing has become a prominent part of today’s remote recruiting. This technology change means you’ll need to adjust your interview strategy. First off, it’s important to choose the best video interviewing tool that matches your business needs and budget. 

Then, create a video interview system: prepare a list of questions you’ll use during the interview, decide the length of your interview, and how you’ll notify candidates. A great way to save time is using a recruitment CRM to automate the communication process so your candidates automatically get notified about their upcoming interviews. 

6. Share The Profiles Of The Interviewers Ahead. 

Send a calendar invite to your candidates with as much information about the interview process and the interviewer ahead of time. Things like interview time, the concerned person’s name and position, interview length, specific instructions like a dress code, etc will help paint a picture for the candidate and ensure they’re well-prepared. 

  • Share the LinkedIn profile of the interviewers: The interview process can tick the wrong nerves and can be anxiety-inducing at best for candidates. While you may not be able to eliminate all of the stress, you can make simple changes like sharing the LinkedIn profile of the interviewers ahead of time to make your candidates feel more comfortable. 

7. Respect Candidate’s Time 

Candidates want the hiring process to be timely and brief. Just like you, your candidates also multi-task and want their hiring process to be as structured as possible. They’re probably busy preparing their resume, researching the company, applying, interviewing, and even considering relocating. 

For these reasons, it’s a good idea to not only let your candidates know the length of your hiring process but also ensure that it’s short. 

According to a LinkedIn survey, companies usually take 2 to 3 months to move candidates from application to hire. Given that top talent stays on the market only for 10 days, a slow, lengthy hiring process creates more friction and reduces the chances of hiring quality candidates for your job postings. 

  • Measure time to fill: Time to fill is defined as the number of calendar days it takes to fill a job position. It measures the days between approving a job requisition and the job acceptance from the candidate. Tracking your time to fill helps you make your hiring process better and even works as a warning if it’s too lengthy. 

8. Communicate Often. 

As recruitment businesses fully shift into the digital space, more and more candidates demand both fast and authentic communication. As we mentioned earlier, it’s no time to go radio-silent on candidates and expect them to stick around for days waiting to hear back about their recruitment process. 

65% of candidates say they either never or rarely receive notice of the decision made on their application from an employer. Of those that do receive notification, 51% say it takes 1 month or more. When they don’t hear back from employers, 85% of job seekers doubt that a human being has even reviewed their application.

It’s evident that candidates are increasingly frustrated with a lack of communication and stale automated emails. That’s why recruiters need to address these frustrations as soon as possible. 

We know that as a recruiter you probably have more than enough on your plate. So instead of taking the added stress of being in constant contact with your candidates, leave it to a reliable recruitment agency software that takes care of your communication. 

  • Use recruiting email templates: Writing great recruitment emails that get opened and clicked is no easy feat. Plus, it takes time to do that. There’s no way you can spend hours crafting the perfect email every time you need to communicate with your candidates. So, we’ve created these well-structured, high-conversion recruiting email templates that you can use right away. 
  • Create email sequences: A recruitment email sequence is a series of emails used to notify candidates at each stage of their hiring process. You can create an automated email sequence and use auto-responses, personalize messaging, and provide real-time updates on their recruitment process. 

9. Personalize the Candidate Experience

Candidates are more informed than ever before. Rather than receiving cold calls and bulk mail, candidates are actively researching and communicating multiple job postings and companies before applying to a position. 

Job seekers value personalized responses above all. If you’re sourcing candidates, you need to ensure that you’re hiring them for the right position. And you need to show them how they’re a good fit for your job posting by personalizing your emails

  • Create candidate journeys: With powerful modern recruiting tools, you can gain valuable insights about your candidates and create a personalized experience for them. If you’ve used our “Recipes” feature, you know it’s an extremely capable and easy-to-use solution for creating automated candidate journeys. It includes everything you need: “Triggers” “Actions”, and more. 
  • Level up your email messaging: While it’s not feasible to manually send out personalized emails, you can leverage automation to add personalized fields in your email for: name, skills, experience, job posting references, and more. To take things a step further, you can also include their specific interests in your messaging based on their LinkedIn profile or resume. 

Also, read our blog on recruiting skills

10. Tell Candidates If the Job Has Been Filled Or If They are Disqualified at Any Stage

For 52% of job seekers, lack of response from employers is the #1 frustration during the overall job search. While automation can fill in the gaps, accelerate your hiring process, and even enhance your overall candidate experience, the success of your recruitment also depends on how you manage rejection notices. 

Imagine this. You had given an interview for a job and it’s been over a week since you got any updates about your recruitment. It’s at this moment when candidates spiral down the train of thoughts – “Was I rejected in my interview stage?” “What could I have done to make it better?” “Have they already hired somebody else”

  • Integrate personal touch in your rejection emails: While 65% of professionals would prefer to read rather than hear that they didn’t make the cut, it’s important to be sensitive with your rejection emails. Promptly communicating with candidates, with either good news or bad, shows you value their time and commitment. You might want to let job seekers know when the job they were applying for or interviewing for has been filled. 

11. Be Open To Giving And Receiving Feedback 

Think of feedback as a way to level up all your interactions with your candidates. Whether you want feedback on your job application, resume screening, interviewing process, or give feedback to candidates, especially if they’ve been rejected, give them a chance to engage with you in a constructive conversation. 

  • Send a survey: Once a candidate is in your hiring process, which means they’ve applied to the job posting, follow up with a survey asking them about their experience. You can do this for every stage of your hiring journey, but we’d recommend that 2-3 surveys are good enough to collect their feedback. We recommend you utilize a nice survey builder.
  • Connect them with a recruiter: If a candidate was rejected in the interview process, don’t just stop at notifying them about it. Rather ask the interviewer to share their feedback and tell the candidate about their areas of improvement. 

Also, read our blog on candidate experience survey.

How To Measure Candidate Experience?

Measuring candidate experience is tricky. That’s because it’s subjective, difficult to quantify and contextualize. And what would you do with data that you can’t measure? You certainly can’t improve your candidate experience using it. 

While there isn’t a single metric that will measure the effectiveness of your candidate experience, there are a few recruitment metrics and KPIs that will give recruiters insights into what’s working and where you can improve your candidate experience strategy.

Some important recruitment KPIs to measure candidate experience:

  • Application abandonment 
  • Time to fill i.e, length of time from application to offer
  • Interview to offer ratio  
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Recruiter response times
  • Candidate satisfaction
  • Referrals 
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)  

Whether you’re a two-person recruiting team or a growing executive search firm, it’s essential to measure your candidate experience. To gather candidate experience data, you need to have a single source of truth that’s accessible to everyone in your organization. 

It’s important to collect and comb data for the full-cycle recruiting process: from which channel do you get the most job applicants, how much time do your recruiters take to make the first contact with applicants, how many emails on an average get opened, and more. 

Until now, we didn’t have the right recruitment tools to easily track these various activities. Most traditional recruitment software is limited to being just an ATS and rarely ever provides recruiters with the features and tools needed to obtain and analyze candidate experience data.

The good news is there are tons of recruitment tools out there now that give you the insight you need to enhance your candidate experience. For example, recruiters use Recruiterflow, which provides analytics and reports for candidates and job pipelines. Moreover, you can also set up automated feedback surveys within emails to gather candidate feedback. 

Your recruitment CRM is like a treasure trove of analytics data for each stage of your hiring process. Analyze this data to identify any stage at which your candidates lose interest or you need to optimize your internal recruiting strategies

Key Takeaways on Candidate Experience

There’s an array of factors that influence your candidate’s experience. Right from the time taken to fill out a job application, and interview scheduling to getting notifications during the hiring process, everything contributes to your candidate experience. 

As a recruiter in today’s remote, asynchronous environment where recruitment dynamics are constantly evolving, you need to take a fresh look at your candidate relationship management strategies. The best recruiters look at their hiring process from the perspective of a candidate to gauge the success of their candidate experience efforts. 

Providing a good candidate experience comes from a combination of science and psychology. As important as it is to leverage AI and data to analyze your candidates’ experience, it’s equally crucial to be kind, respectful and accommodating. By devoting some extra time and resources to enhancing your candidate experience, you can gain long-term business value (repeat business, more revenue, higher ROI) throughout your entire company. 

To see how Recruiterflow can help your recruiting business, start your free 14-day trial today.

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